Wednesday, December 14, 2022
The Empire Club of Canada Presents:
Ring of Fire Progress Update
In Conversation with Minister Pirie, Minister of Mines, Chief Achneepineskum, Lawrence Baxter, Chief Wabasse, and Michael Fox
Unlocking the potential of the Ring of Fire is a key priority for the province and Indigenous Leaders, and will help to attract new investments, develop supply chains and build key infrastructure that brings prosperity to northern and Indigenous communities. In order to make this a reality, the province, Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation are working together to complete a series of road projects that would connect the two communities to the highway network and the area known as the Ring of Fire. In April 2022, Premier Ford joined Chief Wabasse and Chief Achneepineskum as they announced the submission of the terms of reference for the Northern Road Link – the road project that would connect the community road projects to the Ring of Fire.
Join us for this dynamic conversation as we discuss how the province, the two First Nations and the private sector are working together to make the Ring of Fire a reality, protect the environment, enable further regional partnerships and First Nations self-determination.
*The content presented is free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.*
*Views and Opinions Expressed Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the speakers or panelists are those of the speakers or panelists and do not necessarily reflect or represent the official views and opinions, policy or position held by The Empire Club of Canada.*
Bruce Achneepineskum is the Chief of Marten Falls. He has been Chief of Marten Falls First Nation since 2015. Under his leadership Marten Falls First Nation redefined its economic and social development objectives including what the community wanted to do on the development of the Ring of Fire. He has led the community to become an Indigenous proponent of large projects as the community became the proponent of the Community Access Road and the Northern Road Link Project. As Chief, his portfolio includes the sustainable development of these projects and the Ring of Fire and in this role, he works to ensure that his community’s commitments as stewards of their traditional territory are upheld.
Prior to serving as Chief, Chief Achneepineskum was a councillor in Marten Falls as well as an entrepreneur and ran the community store in Marten Fall. He believes that prosperity and sovereignty for his nation are possible through economic development based on resources available in his traditional territory and he continues to work towards the social, economic, and cultural development.
Lawrence Baxter is a member of Marten Falls First Nation. He is fluent in his mother tongue, Ojibway. Lawrence was born on the Albany River and he is third of 11 children born to John and Antionette Baxter. Lawrence was raised on the river until attending Residential School at the age of 8.
Lawrence attended Cambrian College and graduated with a chemistry diploma. He worked for Falconbridge in their metallurgical research lab. He worked for 25 years with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment as an Environmental Officer. He also served as Chief of Marten Falls First Nation for 2 years. He also worked for Nishnawbe Aski Nation in governance and as director of Social Services and child advocacy for 13 years
Lawrence initiated and negotiated Ontario Hydro Grievance process for Marten Falls and was involved in 60’s scoop class action. He acted as the chief negotiator for Marten Falls First Nation on the Regional Framework Agreement. More recently, he has represented the community as a senior advisor on the development of the Marten Falls Community Access Road and as a Working Group appointee on behalf of Marten Falls overseeing the development of the Northern Road Link. In this role, as a proponent, he has overseen the planning and implementation of a large scale Indigenous led Environmental Assessment.
He has two adult children, 1 stepdaughter, and 2 granddaughters.
Michael is the President/CEO of Indigenous Community Engagement (ICE) – one of Canada’s leading national Indigenous firms specializing in community consultation, facilitation/negotiations, capacity building, & enterprise development. He brings a wealth of experience in structuring projects and financing for both industry and Indigenous clients. He obtained an honours degree in Political Science with a focus on Aboriginal Law & Resource Development and has an MBA with a specialization in Social Enterprise. He’s a believer in higher education and has taught university courses to share his professional experiences with the next generation of Indigenous business leaders. He’s originally from Weenusk First Nation and has twin sons and a daughter. He is currently a candidate for a doctorate degree in business administration.
Minister George Pirie was appointed as Minister of Mines by Premier Ford in June 2022. George’s family roots began in the Porcupine over 100 years ago. He is a graduate of Laurentian University and is happily married with two children and three grandchildren. Prior to entering politics, George was a senior mining executive with over thirty-five years of experience in the industry both domestically and internationally. He has held senior positions in the industry for over seventeen years and also has a long history of involvement in the local community. As Mayor of Timmins, George oversaw the largest mining boom in fifty years. He has served on the Mining Association of Canada, the Ontario Mining Association and was also the co-chairman of the Ontario Mineral Industry Cluster Initiative.
Locally, in Timmins, he has made a positive impact in his community by serving on the Porcupine Health Unit and as Chairman of the Timmins Police Service. He has also served as Chairman of the Board of Governors with Northern College, co-chaired local United Way campaigns, and served on local hospital boards as well as community associations.
Cornelius Wabasse has been Chief of Webequie First Nation for several terms, since in the early days of the Ring of Fire mineral discovery. He has provided both vision and leadership with his council on their community’s path to self-determination and wellbeing. Prior to his current role, Chief Wabasse finished post-secondary education and held numerous positions creating opportunities and contributing to the quality of life of Indigenous communities.